Wednesday, October 14, 2009


The more I learn about this group of about 20 species of plants in the family Agavaceae the more I like them. I’ve currently got three Manfreda, coincidently all of them from Cistus nursery. My first was Manfreda maculosa x M. virginiana ‘Spot,” what else could you possibly call this plant besides Spot? It goes deciduous in the winter but reliably comes back in the spring and is slowly multiplying to form a clump.While in Tucson, AZ, a couple years ago I ran across this book Agaves, Yuccas, and Related Plants: a Gardener's Guide by Mary & Gary Irish, at the U of A bookstore (when we travel I want to see gardens and nurseries and my husband loves book stores). I have to admit parts are pretty dry reading, but there is a lot of good information too. All three of my Manfreda share these characteristics, which were identified in the book: “the leaves are quite distinctive; they are fleshy, brittle and deeply guttered, and occur in a loose, often floppy rosette.” That is my only complaint; the leaves are so fleshy and brittle that they brake extremely easily. The leaves also lack a terminal spine and have smooth edges (sometimes tiny week teeth according to the book). All of mine are reported to be hardy to 10 degrees or less, but only Spot has been through a winter with me, he came back from last winter planted both in a pot and in the ground.

I first learned of Manfreda ‘Macho Mocha’ from Pam at Digging, she has posted about hers several times and it is a beauty! I managed to pass it up the first time I saw it but within a couple of months I realized my error and made the trip to Cistus to purchase. My third, Manfreda maculosa is my only Manfreda that has bloomed, and I must confess I bought it with the bloom spike already forming (that’s cheating right?). I read that the blooms are typically very tall for the size of the plant, possibly 10 times the height of the plant or even more. One of the common names for this Manfeda is Texas Tuberose; and its scent certainly lived up to the name.
The blooms were gorgeous, long lasting and the hummingbirds loved them. Several seed pods have formed and I looking forward to trying to grow a few more. Progress will be shared, if there is any.


  1. Hi DG~~ I've never heard of Manfreda. Learn something new every day. It looks like you've placed 'Macho Mocha' next to similarly hued plants. Nice!

  2. Nice article! I recently planted some in gravelly spot in a local native plant garden. They've done really well with almost no care at all.

  3. The blooms on your manfreda maculosa are beautiful: they look both delicate and exotic. If they smell anything like tuberose, they must be intoxicating. It's hard to tell just how tall the bloom spike was...maybe four feet? Next year, go for ten feet!

  4. I left my Manfreda maculosa behind in my old garden, and that plant had been with me for about five years. What was I thinking!? Yes, the bloom stalk is quite tall for such a low-growing plant. I'm glad you tried the 'Macho Mocha,' and thanks for the link love. That plant has Danger Garden written all over it.

    I'm trying Mangave (Manfreda) 'Bloodspot' now. I found it at a local plant sale. It's gorgeous---you must have one!

  5. Oh no! Not another dg find to add to my must have list! Starting to get spiky around here.

  6. Grace, I think there just might be a Manfreda in your future! You never know...

    hot it grows, you did? That's great! Will you post about it someday?

    Jane, I think you are right, about 4ft. It was intoxicating! And the hummingbirds loved it!

    Pam...uhm, adding it to my list RIGHT NOW!

    ricki, yea! You know I heard that Cistus is having a fall sale, now might be your time...(getting spiky huh? I LOVE it!

  7. I passed one up at the HPSO sale, I don't know if it was spot, but it was spotted. I knew I'd come to regret it. But is it one of those full sun, no cheating, plants? I have too many agaves in the shade already. My only true full sun is on the parking strip in front, which leaves plants vulnerable to being stepped on. Maybe after I take care of a couple trees that need to come down, I'll have some extra sunny spots.

  8. Megan, I have not tried to cheat it, but I'm thinking that it wouldn't be happy. Just think of the shopping you'll be doing after the trees come down!!!!!!!!!


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